1. Then Pilate therefore took Jesus, and scourged him.
2. And the soldiers platted a crown of thorns, and put it on his head, and they put on him a purple robe,
3. And said, Hail, King of the Jews! and they smote him with their hands.
4. Pilate therefore went forth again, and saith unto them, Behold, I bring him forth to you, that ye may know that I find no fault in him.
5. Then came Jesus forth, wearing the crown of thorns, and the purple robe. And Pilate saith unto them, Behold the man!
AUGUSTINE. (Tr. cxvi) When the Jews had cried out that they did not wish Jesus to be released on account of the passover, but Barabbas, Then Pilate therefore took Jesus, and scourged Him. Pilate seems to have done this for no reason but to satisfy the malice of the Jews with some punishment short of death. On which account he allowed his band to do what follows, or perhaps even commanded them. The Evangelist only says however that the soldiers did so, not that Pilate commanded them: And the soldiers platted a crown of thorns, and put it on His head, and they put on Him a purple robe, and said, Hail, King of the Jews! and they smote Him with their hands.
CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. lxxxiii) Pilate having called Him the King of the Jews, they put the royal dress upon Him, in mockery.
BEDE. For instead of a diadem, they put upon Him a crown of thorns, and a purple robe to represent the purple robe which kings wear. Matthew says, a scarlet robe, (Mat. 27:28) but scarleta and purple are different names for the same colour. And though the soldiers did this in mockery, yet to us their acts have a meaning. For by the crown of thorns is signified the taking of our sins upon Him, the thorns which the earth of our body brings forth. And the purple robe signifies the flesh crucified. For our Lord is robed in purple, wherever He is glorified by the triumphs of holy martyrs.
CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. xxxiv) It was not at the command of the governor that they did this, but in order to gratify the Jews. For neither were they commanded by him to go to the garden in the night, but the Jews gave them money to go. He bore however all these insults silently. Yet do thou, when thou hearest of them, keep stedfastly in thy mind the King of the whole earth, and Lord of Angels bearing all these contumelies in silence, and imitate His example.
AUGUSTINE. (Tr. cxvi) Thus were fulfilled what Christ had prophesied of Himself; thus were martyrs taught to suffer all that the malice of persecutors could inflict; thus that kingdom which was not of this world conquered the proud world, not by fierce fighting, but by patient suffering.
CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. lxxxiv) That the Jews might cease from their fury, seeing Him thus insulted, Pilate brought out Jesus before them crowned: Pilate therefore went forth again, and, saith unto them, Behold, I bring Him forth to you, that ye may know that I find no fault in Him.
AUGUSTINE. (Tr. cxvi) Hence it is apparent that these things were not done without Pilate’s knowledge, whether he commanded, or only permitted them, for the reason we have mentioned, viz. that His enemies seeing the insults heaped upon Him, might not thirst any longer for His blood: Then came Jesus forth, wearing the crown of thorns, and the purple robe: not the insignia of empire, but the marks of ridicule. And Pilate saith unto them, Behold the man! as if to say, If ye envy the King, spare the outcast. Ignominy overflows, let envy subside.
6. When the chief priests therefore and officers saw him, they cried out, saying, Crucify him, crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Take ye him, and crucify him: for I find no fault in him.
7. The Jews answered him, We have a law, and by our law he ought to die, because he made himself the Son of God.
8. When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he was the more afraid.
AUGUSTINE. (Tr. cxvi) The envy of the Jews does not subside at Christ’s disgraces; yea, rather rises: When the chief priests therefore and officers saw Him, they cried out, saying, Crucify Him. crucify Him.
CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. lxxxiv. 2) Pilate saw then that it was all in vain: Pilate saith unto them, Take ye Him, and crucify Him. This is the speech of a man abhorring (ἀφοσιούμενον) the deed, and urging others to do a deed which he abhors himself. They had brought our Lord indeed to him that He might be put to death by his sentence, but the very contrary was the result; the governor acquitted Him: For I find no fault in Him. He clears Him immediately from all charges: which shews that he had only permitted the former outrages, to humour the madness of the Jews. But nothing could shame the Jewish hounds: The Jews answered him, We have a law, and by our law He ought to die, because He made Himself the Son of God.
AUGUSTINE. (Tr. cxvi) Lo, another greater outbreak of envy. The former was lighter, being only to punish Him for aspiring to a usurpation of the royal power. Yet did Jesus make neither claim falsely; both were true: He was both the Only-begotten Son of God, and the King appointed by God upon the holy hill of Sion. And He would have demonstrated His right to both now, had He not been as patient as He was powerful.
CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. lxxxiv) While they disputed with each other, He was silent, fulfilling the prophecy, He openeth not His mouth; He was taken from prison and from judgment. (Is. 53:7, 8)
AUGUSTINE. (de Con. Evang. iii. 8) This agrees with Luke’s account, We found this fellow perverting the nation, (Luke 23:2) only with the addition of, because He made Himself the Son of God.
CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. lxxxiv. 2) Then Pilate begins to fear that what had been said might be true, and that he might appear to be administering justice improperly: When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he was the more afraid.
BEDE. It was not the law that he was afraid of, as he was a stranger: but he was more afraid, lest he should slay the Son of God.
CHRYSOSTOM. They were not afraid to say this, that He made Himself the Son of God: but they kill Him for the very reasons for which they ought to have worshipped Him.
9. And went again into the judgment hall, and saith unto Jesus, Whence art thou? But Jesus gave him no answer.
10. Then saith Pilate unto him, Speakest thou not unto me? knowest thou not that I have power to crucify thee, and have power to release thee?
11. Jesus answered, Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above: therefore he that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin.
12. And from thenceforth Pilate sought to release him.
CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. lxxxiv. 2) Pilate, agitated with fear, begins again examining Him: And went again into the judgment hall, and saith unto Jesus, Whence art Thou? He no longer asks, What hast Thou done? But Jesus gave him no answer. For he who had heard, To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, and, My kingdom is not from hence, ought to have resisted, and rescued Him, instead of which he had yielded to the fury of the Jews. Wherefore seeing that he asked questions without object, He answers him no more. Indeed at other times He was unwilling to give reasons, and defend Himself by argument, when His works testified so strongly for Him; thus shewing that He came voluntarily to His work.
AUGUSTINE. (Tr. cxvi. 4) In comparing the accounts of the different Evangelists together, we find that this silence was maintained more than once; viz. before the High Priest, before, Herod, and before Pilate. So that the prophecy of Him, As a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so opened He not His mouth, (Isa. 53:7.) was amply fulfilled. To many indeed of the questions put to Him, He did reply, but where He did not reply, this comparison of the sheep shews us that His was not a silence of guilt, but of innocence; not of self-condemnation, but of compassion, and willingness to suffer for the sins of others.
CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. lxxxiv. 2) He remaining thus silent, Then saith Pilate unto Him, Speakest Thou not unto me? knowest Thou not that I have power to crucify Thee, and have power to release Thee? See how he condemns himself. If all depends upon thee, why, when thou findest no fault of offence, dost thou not acquit Him?
Jesus answered, Thou couldest have no power at all against Me, except it were given thee from above; shewing that this judgment was accomplished not in the common and natural order of events, but mysteriously. But lest we should think that Pilate was altogether free from blame, He adds, Therefore he that hath delivered Me unto thee hath the greater sin. But if it was given, thou wilt say, neither he nor they were liable to blame. Thou speakest foolishly. Given means permitted; as if He said, He hath permitted this to be done; but ye are not on that account free from guilt.
AUGUSTINE. (Tr. cxvi) So He answers. When He was silent, He was silent not as guilty or crafty, but as a sheep: when He answered, He taught as a shepherd. Let us hear what He saith; which is that, as He teacheth by His Apostle, There is no power but of God; (Rom. 13:1) and that he that through envy delivers an innocent person to the higher power, who puts to death from fear of a greater power, still sins more than that higher power itself. God had given such power to Pilate, as that he was still under Cæsar’s power: wherefore our Lord says, Thou couldest have no power at all against Me, i. e. no power however small, unless it, whatever it was, was given thee from above. And as that is not so great as to give thee complete liberty of action, therefore he that delivered Me unto thee hath the greater sin. He delivered Me into thy power from envy, but thou wilt exercise that power from fear. And though a man ought not to kill another even from fear, especially an innocent man, yet to do so from envy is much worse. Wherefore our Lord does not say, He that delivered Me unto thee hath the sin, as if the other had none, but, hath the greater sin, implying that the other also had some.
THEOPHYLACT. He that delivered Me unto thee, i. e. Judas, or the multitude. When Jesus had boldly replied, that unless He gave Himself up, and the Father consented, Pilate could have had no power over Him, Pilate was the more anxious to release Him; And from thenceforth Pilate sought to release Him.
AUGUSTINE. (Tr. cxvi) Pilate had sought from the first to release: so we must understand, from thence, to mean from this cause, i. e. lest he should incur guilt by putting to death an innocent person.
12. But the Jews cried out, saying, If thou let this man go, thou art not Cæsar’s friend: whosoever maketh himself a king speaketh against Cæsar.
13. When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he brought Jesus forth, and sat down in the judgment seat in a place that is called the Pavement, but in the Hebrew, Gabbatha.
14. And it was the preparation of the passover, and about the sixth hour: and he saith unto the Jews, Behold your King!
15. But they cried out, Away with him, away with him, crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Shall I crucify your King? The chief priests answered, We have no king but Cæsar.
16. Then delivered he him therefore unto them to be crucified.
AUGUSTINE. (Tr. cxvi) The Jews thought they could alarm Pilate more by the mention of Cæsar, than by telling him of their law, as they had done above; We have a law, and by that law He ought to die, because He made Himself the Son of God. So it follows, But the Jews cried out, saying, If thou let this Man go, thou art not Cæsar’s friend; whosoever maketh himself a king speaketh against Cæsar.
CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. lxxxiv. 2) But how can ye prove this? By His purple, His diadem, His chariot, His guards? Did He not walk about with His twelve disciples only, and every thing mean about Him, food, dress, and habitation?
AUGUSTINE. (Tr. cxvi) Pilate was before afraid not of violating their law by sparing Him, but of killing the Son of God, in killing Him. But he could not treat his master Cæsar with the same contempt with which he treated the law of a foreign nation: When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he brought Jesus forth, and sat down in the judgment seat in a place that is called the Pavement, but in the Hebrew, Gabbatha.
CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. lxxxiv. 2) He went out to examine into the matter: his sitting down on the judgment seat shews this.
GLOSS. The tribunal is the seat of the judge, as the throne is the seat of the king, and the chair the seat of the doctor.
BEDE. Lithostraton, i. e. laid with stone; the word signifies pavement. It was an elevated place.
And it was the preparation of the Passover.
ALCUIN. Parasceve, i. e. preparation. This was a name for the sixth day, the day before the Sabbath, on which they prepared what was necessary for the Sabbath; as we read, On the sixth day they gathered twice as much bread. (Exod. 16:22) As man was made on the sixth day, and God rested on the seventh; so Christ suffered on the sixth day, and rested in the grave on the seventh.
And it was about the sixth hour.
AUGUSTINE. (Tract. cxvii) Why then doth Mark say, And it was the third hour, and they crucified Him? (Mark 15:25) Because on the third hour our Lord was crucified by the tongues of the Jews, on the sixth by the hands of the soldiers. So that we must understand that the fifth hour was passed, and the sixth began, when Pilate sat down on the judgment seat, (about the sixth hour, John says,) and that the crucifixion, and all that took place in connexion with it, filled up the rest of the hour, from which time up to the ninth hour there was darkness, according to Matthew, Mark, and Luke. But since the Jews tried to transfer the guilt of putting Christ to death from themselves to the Romans, i. e. to Pilate and his soldiers, Mark, omitting to mention the hour at which He was crucified by the soldiers, has expressly recorded the third hour; in order that it might be evident that not only the soldiers who crucified Jesus on the sixth hour, but the Jews who cried out for His death at the third, were His crucifiers. There is another way of solving this difficulty, viz. that the sixth hour here does not mean the sixth hour of the day; as John does not say, It was about the sixth hour of the day, but, It was the preparation of the passover, and about the sixth hour. Parasceve means in Latin, præparatio. For Christ our passover, as saith the Apostle, is sacrificed for us. The preparation for which passover, counting from the ninth hour of the night, which seems to have been the hour at which the chief priests pronounced upon our Lord’s sacrifice, saying, He is guilty of death, between it and the third hour of the day, when He was crucified, according to Mark, is an interval of six hours, three of the night and three of the day.
THEOPHYLACT. Some suppose it to be a fault of the transcriber, who for the letter y, three, puts, six.
CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. lxxxiv) Pilate, despairing of moving them, did not examine Him, as he intended, but delivered Him up. And he saith unto the Jews, Behold your King!
THEOPHYLACT. As if to say, See the kind of Man whom ye suspect of aspiring to the throne, a humble person, who cannot have any such design.
CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. lxxxiv. 2) A speech that should have softened their rage; but they were afraid of letting Him go, lest He might draw away the multitude again. For the love of rule is a heavy crime, and sufficient to condemn a man. They cried out, Away with Him, away with Him. And they resolved upon the most disgraceful kind of death, Crucify Him, in order to prevent all memorial of Him afterwards.
AUGUSTINE. (Tr. cxvi. 8) Pilate still tries to overcome their apprehensions on Cæsar’s account; Pilate saith unto them, Shall I crucify your King? He tries to shame them into doing what he had not been able to soften them into by putting Christ to shame.
The chief priests answered, We have no king but Cæsar.
CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. lxxxiv. 2) They voluntarily brought themselves under punishment, and God gave them up to it. With one accord they denied the kingdom of God, and God suffered them to fall into their own condemnation; for they rejected the kingdom of Christ, and called down upon their own heads that of Cæsar.
AUGUSTINE. (Tr. cxvi) But Pilate is at last overcome by fear: Then delivered he Him therefore unto them to be crucified. For it would be taking part openly against Cæsar, if when the Jews declared that they had no king but Cæsar, he wished to put another king over them, as he would appear to do if he let go unpunished a Man whom they had delivered to him for punishment on this very ground. It is not however, delivered Him unto them to crucify Him, but, to be crucified, i. e. by the sentence and authority of the governor. The Evangelist says, delivered unto them, to shew that they were implicated in the guilt from which they tried to escape. For Pilate would not have done this except to please them.
16. And they took Jesus, and led him away.
17. And he bearing his cross went forth into a place called the place of a skull, which is called in the Hebrew Golgotha:
18. Where they crucified him, and two other with him, on either side one, and Jesus in the midst.
GLOSS. By the command of the governor, the soldiers took Christ to be crucified. And they took Jesus, and led Him away.
AUGUSTINE. (Tr. cxvi) They, i. e. the soldiers, the guards of the governor, as appears more clearly afterwards; Then the soldiers when they had crucified Jesus; though the Evangelist might justly have attributed the whole to the Jews, who were really the authors of what they procured to be done.
CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. lxxxv. 1) They compel Jesus to bear the cross, regarding it as unholy, and therefore avoiding the touch of it themselves. And He bearing His cross went forth into a place called the place of a skull, which is called in Hebrew Golgotha, where they crucified Him. The same was done typically by Isaac, who carried the wood. But then the matter only proceeded as far as his father’s good pleasure ordered, but now it was fully accomplished, for the reality had appeared.
THEOPHYLACT. But as there Isaac was let go, and a ram offered; so here too the Divine nature remains impassible, but the human, of which the ram was the type, the offspring of that straying ram, was slain. But why does another Evangelist say that they hired Simon to bear the cross?
AUGUSTINE. (de Con. Evang. iii. x) Both bore it; first Jesus, as John says, then Simon, as the other three Evangelists say. On first going forth, He bore His own cross.
AUGUSTINE. (Tract. cxvii) Great spectacle, to the profane a laughing-stock, to the pious a mystery. Profaneness sees a King bearing a cross instead of a sceptre; piety sees a King bearing a cross, thereon to nail Himself, and afterwards to nail it on the foreheads of kings. That to profane eyes was contemptible, which the hearts of Saints would afterwards glory in; Christ displaying His own cross on His shoulders, and bearing that which was not to be put under a bushel, the candlestick of that candle which was now about to burn.
CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. lxxxv) He carried the badge of victory on His shoulders, as conquerors do. Some say that the place of Calvary was where Adam died and was buried; so that in the very place where death reigned, there Jesus erected His trophy.
JEROME. (super Matt. c. xxvii.) An apt connexion, and smooth to the ear, but not true. For the place where they cut off the heads of men condemned to death, called in consequence Calvary, was outside the city gates, whereas we read in the book of Jesus the son of Nave, that Adam was buried by Hebron and Arbah.
CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. lxxxv. 1) They crucified Him with the thieves: And two others with Him, on either side one, and Jesus in the midst; thus fulfilling the prophecy, And He was numbered with the transgressors. (Isa. 53:12) What they did in wickedness, was a gain to the truth. The devil wished to obscure what was done, but could not. Though three were nailed on the cross, it was evident that Jesus alone did the miracles; and the arts of the devil were frustrated. Nay, they even added to His glory; for to convert a thief on the cross, and bring him into paradise, was no less a miracle than the rending of the rocks.
AUGUSTINE. (Tr. xxxi. in fin.) Yea, even the cross, if thou consider it, was a judgment seat: for the Judge being the middle, one thief, who believed, was pardoned, the other, who mocked, was damned: a sign of what He would once do to the quick and dead, place the one on His right hand, the other on His left.
19. And Pilate wrote a title, and put it on the cross. And the writing was, JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS.
20. This title then read many of the Jews: for the place where Jesus was crucified was nigh to the city: and it was written in Hebrew, and Greek, and Latin.
21. Then said the chief priests of the Jews to Pilate, Write not, The King of the Jews; but that he said, I am King of the Jews.
22. Pilate answered, What I have written I have written.
CHRYSOSTOM. As letters are inscribed on a trophy declaring the victory, so Pilate wrote a title on Christ’s cross. And Pilate wrote a title, and put it on the cross: thus at once distinguishing Christ from the thieves with Him, and exposing the malice of the Jews in rising up against their King: And the writing was, Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.
BEDE. Wherein was shewn that His kingdom was not, as they thought, destroyed, but rather strengthened.
AUGUSTINE. (Tract. cxviii) But was Christ the King of the Jews only? or of the Gentiles too? Of the Gentiles too, as we read in the Psalms, Yet have I set My King upon My holy hill of Sion; (Ps. 2:6) after which it follows, Demand of Me, and I will give Thee the heathen for Thine inheritance. So this title expresses a great mystery, viz. that the wild olive-tree was made partaker of the fatness of the olive-tree, not the olive-tree made partaker of the bitterness of the wild olive-tree. Christ then is King of the Jews according to the circumcision not of the flesh, but of the heart; not in the letter, but in the spirit. This title then read many of the Jews: for the place where Jesus was crucified was nigh to the city.
CHRYSOSTOM. It is probable that many Gentiles as well as Jews bad come up to the feast. So the title was written in three languages, that all might read it: And it was written in Hebrew, and Greek, and Latin.
AUGUSTINE. (Tract. cxviii) These three were the languages most known there: the Hebrew, on account of being used in the worship of the Jews: the Greek, in consequence of the spread of Greek philosophy: the Latin, from the Roman empire being established every where.
THEOPHYLACT. The title written in three languages signifies that our Lord was King of the whole world; practical, natural, and spiritual1. The Latin denotes the practical, because the Roman empire was the most powerful, and best managed one; the Greek the physical, the Greeks being the best physical philosophers; and, lastly, the Hebrew the theological, because the Jews had been made the depositaries of religious knowledge.
CHRYSOSTOM. But the Jews grudged our Lord this title: Then said the chief priests of the Jews to Pilate, Write not, The King of the Jews; but that He said, I am King of the Jews, For as Pilate wrote it, it was a plain and single declaration that He was King, but the addition of, that he said, made it a charge against Him of petulance and vain glory. But Pilate was firm: Pilate answered, What I have written I have written.
AUGUSTINE. O ineffable working of Divine power even in the hearts of ignorant men! Did not some hidden voice sound from within, and, if we may say so, with clamorous silence, saying to Pilate in the prophetic words of the Psalm, Alter not the inscription of the titlea? But what say ye, ye mad priests: will the title be the less true, because Jesus said, I am the King of the Jews? If that which Pilate wrote cannot be altered, can that be altered which the Truth spoke? Pilate wrote what he wrote, bceause our Lord said what He said.
23. Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took his garments, and made four parts, to every soldier a part; and also his coat: now the coat was without seam, woven from the top throughout.
24. They said therefore among themselves, Let us not rend it, but cast lots for it, whose it shall be: that the Scripture might be fulfilled, which saith, They parted my raiment among them, and for my vesture they did cast lots.
On Pilate giving sentence, the soldiers under his command crucified Jesus: Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took His garments. And yet if we look to their intentions, their clamours, the Jews were rather the people which crucified Him. On the parting and casting lots for His garment, John gives more circumstances than the other Evangelists, And made four parts, to every soldier a part: whence we see there were four soldiers who executed the governor’s sentence. And also His coat: took, understood. They took His coat too. The sentence is brought in so to shew that this was the only garment for which they cast lots, the others being divided. Now the coat was without seam, woven from the top throughout.
CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. lxxxv) The Evangelist describes the tunic, to shew that it was of an inferior kind, the tunics commonly worn in Palestine being made of two pieces.
THEOPHYLACT. Others say that they did not weave in Palestine, as we do, the shuttle being driven upwards through the warp; so that among them the woof was not carried upwards but downwardsb.
AUGUSTINE. (Tract. cxviii) Why they cast lots for it, next appears: They said therefore among themselves, Let us not rend it, but cast lots for it whose it should be. It seems then that the other garments were made up of equal parts, as it was not necessary to rend them; the tunic only having to be rent in order to give each an equal share of it; to avoid which they preferred casting lots for it, and one having it all. This answered to the prophecy: That the Scripture might be fulfilled which saith, They parted My raiment among them, and for My vesture they did cast lots.
CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. lxxxv) Behold the sureness of prophecy. The Prophet foretold not only what they would part, but what they would not. They parted the raiment, but cast lots for the vesture.
AUGUSTINE. (Tract. cxviii. 3) Matthew in saying, They parted His garments, casting lots, (Mat. 27:35.) means us to understand the whole division of the garments, including the tunic also for which they cast lots. Luke says the same: They parted His raiment, and cast lots. (Luke 23:34) In parting His garments they came to the tunic, for which they cast lots. Mark is the only one that raises any question: They parted His garments, casting upon them what every man should take: (Mark 15:24) as if they cast lots for all the garments, and not the tunic only. But it is his brevity that creates the difficulty. Casting lots upon them: as if it was, casting lots when they were parting the garments. What every man should take: i. e. who should take the tunic; as if the whole stood thus: Casting lots upon them, who should take the tunic which remained over and above the equal shares, into which the rest of the garments were divided. The fourfold division of our Lord’s garment represents His Church, spread over the four quarters of the globe, and distributed equally, i. e. in concord, to all. The tunic for which they cast lots signifies the unity of all the parts, which is contained in the bond of love. And if love is the more excellent way, above knowledge, and above all other commandments, according to Colossians, Above all things have charity, (Col. 3:14) the garment by which this is denoted, is well said to be woven from above. (desuper, ἄνωθεν) Through the whole, is added, because no one is void of it, who belongs to that whole, from which the Church Catholic is named. It is without seam again, so that it can never come unsown, and is in one piece, i. e. brings all together into one. (ad unum provenit) By the lot is signified the grace of God: for God elects not with respect to person or merits, but according to His own secret counsel.
CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. lxxxv. 1) According to some, The tunic without seam, woven from above throughout, is an allegory shewing that He who was crucified was not simply man, but also had Divinity from above.
THEOPHYLACT. The garment without seam denotes the body of Christ, which was woven from above; for the Holy Ghost came upon the Virgin, and the power of the Highest overshadowed her. This holy body of Christ then is indivisible: for though it be distributed for every one to partake of, and to sanctify the soul and body of each one individually, yet it subsists in all wholly and indivisibly. The world consisting of four elements, the garments of Christ must be understood to represent the visible creation, which the devils divide amongst themselves, as often as they deliver to death the word of God which dwelleth in us, and by worldly allurements bring us over to their side.
AUGUSTINE. (Tract. cxviii) Nor let any one say that these things had no good signification, because they were done by wicked men; for if so, what shall we say of the cross itself? For that was made by ungodly men, and yet certainly by it were signified, What is the length, and depth, and breadth, and height, (Eph. 3:18) as the Apostle saith. Its breadth consists of a cross beam, on which are stretched the hands of Him who hangs upon it. This signifies the breadth of charity, and the good works done therein. Its length consists of a cross beam going to the ground, and signifies perseverance in length of time. The height is the top which rises above the cross beam, and signifies the high end to which all things refer. The depth is that part which is fixed in the ground; there it is hidden, but the whole cross that we see rises from it. Even so all our good works proceed from the depth of God’s incomprehensible grace. But though the cross of Christ only signify what the Apostle saith, They that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh, with the affections and lusts, (Gal. 5:24) how great a good is it? Lastly, what is the sign of Christ, but the cross of Christ? Which sign must be applied to the foreheads of believers, to the water of regeneration, to the oil of chrism, to the sacrifice whereby we are nourished, or none of these is profitable for life.
24. These things therefore the soldiers did.
25. Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene.
26. When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son!
27. Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her to his own home.
THEOPHYLACT. While the soldiers were doing their cruel work, He was thinking anxiously of His mother: These things therefore the soldiers did. Now there stood by the cross of Jesus His mother, and His mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene.
AMBROSE. Mary the mother of our Lord stood before the cross of her Son. None of the Evangelists hath told me this except John. The others have related how that at our Lord’s Passion the earth quaked, the heaven was overspread with darkness, the sun fled, the thief was taken into paradise after confession. John hath told us, what the others have not, how that from the cross whereon He hung, He called to His mother. He thought it a greater thing to shew Him victorious over punishment, fulfilling the offices of piety to His mother, than giving the kingdom of heaven and eternal life to the thief. For if it was religious to give life to the thief, a much richer work of piety it is for a son to honour his mother with such affection. Behold, He saith, thy son; behold thy mother. Christ made His Testament from the cross, and divided the offices of piety between the Mother and the disciples. Our Lord made not only a public, but also a domestic Testamnet. And this His Testament John sealed, a witness worthy of such a Testator. A good testament it was, not of money, but of eternal life, which was not written with ink, but with the spirit of the living God: My tongue is the pen of a ready writer. (Ps. 45:1) Mary, as became the mother of our Lord, stood before the cross, when the Apostles fled, and with pitiful eyes beheld the wounds of her Son. For she looked not on the death of the Hostage, but on the salvation of the world; and perhaps knowing that her Son’s death would bring this salvation, she who had been the habitation of the King, thought that by her death she might add to that universal gift.
But Jesus did not need any help for saving the world, as we read in the Psalm, I have been even as a man with no help, free among the dead. (Ps. 87) He received indeed the affection of a parent, but He did not seek another’s help. Imitate her, ye holy matrons, who, as towards her only most beloved Son, hath set you an example of such virtue: for ye have not sweeter sons, nor did the Virgin seek consolation in again becoming a mother.
JEROME. The Mary which in Mark and Matthew is called the mother of James and Joses, was the wife of Alpheus, and sister of Mary the mother of our Lord: which Mary John here designates of Cleophas, either from her father, or family, or for some other reason. She need not be thought a different person, because she is called in one place Mary the mother of James the less, and here Mary of Cleophas, for it is customary in Scripture to give different names to the same person.
CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. lxxxv) Observe how the weaker sex is the stronger; standing by the cross when the disciples fly.
AUGUSTINE. (de Con. Ev. iii. 21) If Matthew and Mark had not mentioned by name Mary Magdalen, we should have thought that there were two parties, one of which stood far off, and the other near. But how must we account for the same Mary Magdalen and the other women standing afar off, as Matthew and Mark say, and being near the cross, as John says? By supposing that they were within such a distance as to be within sight of our Lord, and yet sufficiently far off to be out of the way of the crowd and Centurion, and soldiers who were immediately about Him. Or, we may suppose that after our Lord had commended His mother to the disciple, they retired to be out of the way of the crowd, and saw what took place afterwards at a distance: so that those Evangelists who do not mention them till after our Lord’s death, describe them as standing afar off. (Matthew and Mark.) That some women are mentioned by all alike, others not, makes no matter.
CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. lxxxv. 2) Though there were other women by, He makes no mention of any of them, but only of His mother, to shew us that we should specially honour our mothers. Our parents indeed, if they actually oppose the truth, are not even to be known: but otherwise we should pay them all attention, and honour them above all the world beside: When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, He saith unto His mother, Woman, behold thy son!
BEDE. By the disciple whom Jesus loved, the Evangelist means himself; not that the others were not loved, but he was loved more intimately on account of his estate of chastity; for a Virgin our Lord called him, and a Virgin he ever remained.
CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. lxxxv. 2.) Heavens! (Papæ) what honour does He pay to the disciple; who however conceals his name from modesty. For had he wished to boast, he would have added the reason why he was loved, for there must have been something great and wonderful to have caused that love. This is all He says to John; He does not console his grief, for this was a time for giving consolation. Yet was it no small one to be honoured with such a charge, to have the mother of our Lord, in her affliction, committed to his care by Himself on His departure: Then saith He to the disciple, Behold thy mother!
AUGUSTINE. (Tr. cxix. 1) This truly is that hour of the which Jesus, when about to change the water into wine, said, Mother, what have I to do with thee? Mine hour is not yet come. Then, about to act divinely, He repelled the mother of His humanity, of His infirmity, as if He knew her not: now, suffering humanly, He commends with human affection her of whom He was made man. Here is a moral lesson. The good Teacher shews us by His example how that pious sons should take care of their parents. The cross of the sufferer, is the chair of the Master.
CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. lxxxv. 2) The shameless doctrine of Marcion is refuted here. For if our Lord were not born according to the flesh, and had not a mother, why did He make such provision for her? Observe how imperturbable He is during His crucifixion, talking to the disciple of His mother, fulfilling prophecies, giving good hope to the thief; whereas before His crucifixion, He seemed in fear. The weakness of His nature was shewn there, the exceeding greatness of His power here. He teaches us too herein, not to turn back, because we may feel disturbed at the difficulties before us; for when we are once actually under the trial, all will be light and easy for us.
AUGUSTINE. (Tr. cxix. 2) He does this to provide as it were another son for His mother in his place; And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own. Unto his own what? Was not John one of those who said, Lo, we have left all, and followed Thee? (Mat. 19:27) He took her then to his own, i. e. not to his farm, for he had none, but to his care, for of this he was master.
BEDE. Another reading is, Accepit eam discipulus in suam, his own mother some understand, but to his own care seems better.
28. After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst.
29. Now there was set a vessel full of vinegar: and they filled a spunge with vinegar, and put it upon hyssop, and put it to his mouth.
30. When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.
AUGUSTINE. (Tr. cxix.) He who appeared man, suffered all these things; He who was God, ordered them: After this Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished; i. e. knowing the prophecy in the Psalms, And when I was thirsty, they gave me vinegar to drink, (Ps. 68) said, I thirst:As if to say, ye have not done all (minus): give me yourselves: for the Jews were themselves vinegar, having degenerated from the wine of the Patriarchs and the Prophets. Now there was a vessel full of vinegar: they had drunk from the wickedness of the world, as from a full vessel, and their heart was deceitful, as it were, a spunge full of caves and crooked hiding places: And they filled a spunge with vinegar, and put it upon hyssop, and put it to his mouth.
CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. lxxxv) They were not softened at all by what they saw, but were the more enraged, and gave Him the cup to drink, as they did to criminals, i. e. with a hyssop.
AUGUSTINE. The hyssop around which they put the spunge full of vinegar, being a mean herb, taken to purge the breast, represents the humility of Christ, which they hemmed in and thought they had circumvented. (ὑσσώπῳ περιθέντες) For we are made clean by Christ’s humility. Nor let it perplex you that they were able to reach His mouth when He was such a height above the ground: for we read in the other Evangelists, what John omits to mention, that the spunge was put upon a reed.
THEOPHYLACT. Some say that the hyssop is put here for reed, its leaves being like a reed.
When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, He said, It is finished.
AUGUSTINE. (Tr. cxix) viz. what prophecy had foretold so long before.
BEDE. It may be asked here, why it is said, When Jesus had received the vinegar, when another Evangelists says, He would not drink. (Mat. 27:34) But this is easily settled. He did not receive the vinegar, to drink it, but fulfil the prophecy.
AUGUSTINE. (Tr. cxix) Then as there was nothing left Him to do before He died, it follows, And He bowed His head, and gave up the ghost, only dying when He had nothing more to do, like Him who had to lay down His life, and to take it up again.
GREGORY. (xi. Mor. iii.) Ghost is put here for soul: for had the Evangelist meant any thing else by it, though the ghost departed, the soul might still have remained.
CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. lxxxv) He did not bow His head because He gave up the ghost, but He gave up the ghost because at that moment He bowed His head. Whereby the Evangelist intimates that He was Lord of all.
AUGUSTINE. (Tr. cxix) For who ever had such power to sleep when he wished, as our Lord had to die when He wished? What power must He have, for our good or evil, Who had such power dying?
THEOPHYLACT. Our Lord gave up His ghost to God the Father, shewing that the souls of the saints do not remain in the tomb, but go into the hand of the Father of all; while sinners are reserved for the place of punishment, i. e. hell.
31. The Jews therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the sabbath day, (for that sabbath day was an high day,) besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away.
32. Then came the soldiers, and brake the legs of the first, and of the other which was crucified with him.
33. But when they came to Jesus, and saw that he was dead already, they brake not his legs:
34. But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water.
35. And he that saw it bare record, and his record is true: and he knoweth that he saith true, that ye might believe.
36. For these things were done, that the Scripture should be fulfilled, A bone of him shall not be broken.
37. And again another Scripture saith, They shall look on him whom they pierced.
CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. lxxxv) The Jews who strained at a gnat and swallowed a camel, after their audacious wickedness, reason scrupulously about the day: The Jews therefore because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the sabbath.
BEDE. Parasceue, i. e. preparation: the sixth day was so called because the children of Israel prepared twice the number of loaves on that day. For that sabbath day was an high day, i. e. on account of the feast of the passover.
Besought Pilate that their legs might be broken.
AUGUSTINE. (Tr. cxx) Not in order to take away the legs, but to cause death, that they might be taken down from the cross, and the feast clay not be defiled by the sight of such horrid torments.
THEOPHYLACT. For it was commanded in the Law that the sun should not set on the punishment of any one; or they were unwilling to appear tormentors and homicides on a feast day.
CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. lxxxv. 3) How forcible is truth: their own devices it is that accomplish the fulfilment of prophecy: Then came the soldiers and brake the legs of the first, and of the other which was crucified with Him. But when they came to Jesus, and saw that He was dead already, they brake not His legs: but one of the soldiers with a spear pierced His side.
THEOPHYLACT. To please the Jews, they pierce Christ, thus insulting even His lifeless body. But the insult issues in a miracle: for a miracle it is that blood should flow from a dead body.
AUGUSTINE. (Tr. cxx.) The Evangelist has expressed himself cautiously; not struck, or wounded, but opened His side: (ἔνυξε, aperuit V.) whereby was opened the gate of life, from whence the sacraments of the Church flowed, without which we cannot enter into that life which is the true life: And forthwith came thereout blood and water. That blood was shed for the remission of sins, that water tempers the cup of salvation. This it was which was prefigured when Noah was commanded to make a door in the side of the ark, by which the animals that were not to perish by the deluge entered; which animals prefigured the Church. To shadow forth this, the woman was made out of the side of the sleeping man; for this second Adam bowed His head, and slept on the cross, that out of that which came therefrom, there might be formed a wife for Him. O death, by which the dead are quickened, what can be purer than that blood, what more salutary than that wound!
CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. lxxxv) This being the source whence the holy mysteries are derived, when thou approachest the awful cup, approach it as if thou wert about to drink out of Christ’s side.
THEOPHYLACT. Shame then upon them who mix not water with the wine in the holy mysteries: they seem as if they believed not that the water flowed from the side. Had blood flowed only, a man might have said that there was some life left in the body, and that that was why the blood flowed. But the water flowing is an irresistible miracle, and therefore the Evangelist adds, And he that saw it bare record.
CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. lxxxv. 3) As if to say, I did not hear it from others, but saw it with mine own eyes. And his record is true, he adds, not as if he had mentioned something so wonderful that his account would be suspected, but to stop the mouths of heretics, and in contemplation of the deep value of those mysteries which he announces.
And he knoweth that he saith true, that ye might believe.
AUGUSTINE. (Tr. cxx) He that saw it knoweth; let him that saw not believe his testimony. He gives testimonies from the Scriptures to each of these two things he relates. After, they brake not His legs, He adds, For these things were done, that the Scripture should be fulfilled, A bone of Him shall not be broken, a commandment which applied to the sacrifice of the paschal lamb under the old law, which sacrifice foreshadowed our Lord’s. Also after, One of the soldiers with a spear opened His side, then follows another Scripture testimony; And again another Scripture saith, They shall look on Him whom they pierced, (Zech. 12:10) a prophecy which implies that Christ will come in the very flesh in which He was crucified.
JEROME. (Pref. ad Pentet.) This testimony is taken from Zacharias.
38. And after this Joseph of Arimathæa, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, besought Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus: and Pilate gave him leave. He came therefore, and took the body of Jesus.
39. And there came also Nicodemus, which at the first came to Jesus by night, and brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight.
40. Then took they the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury.
41. Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new sepulchre, wherein was never man yet laid.
42. There laid they Jesus therefore because of the Jews’ preparation day; for the sepulchre was nigh at hand.
CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. lxxxv) Joseph thinking that the hatred of the Jews would be appeased by His crucifixion, went with confidence to ask permission to take charge of His burial: And after this, Joseph of Arimathea besought Pilate.
BEDE. Arimathea is the same as Ramatha, the city of Elkanah, and Samuel. It was providentially ordered that he should be rich, in order that he might have access to the governor, and just, in order that he might merit the charge of our Lord’s body: That he might take the body of Jesus, because he was His disciple.
CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. lxxxv. 3) He was not of the twelve, but of the seventy, for none of the twelve came near. Not that their fear kept them back, for Joseph was a disciple, secretly for fear of the Jews. But Joseph was a person of rank, and known to Pilate; so he went to him, and the favour was granted, and afterwards believed Him, not as a condemned man, but as a great and wonderful Person: He came therefore, and took the body of Jesus.
AUGUSTINE. (de Con. Evang. iii. 22) In performing this last office to our Lord, he shewed a bold indifference to the Jews, though he had avoided our Lord’s company when alive, for fear of incurring their hatred.
BEDE. Their ferocity being appeased for the time by their success, he sought the body of Christ. He did not come as a disciple, but simply to perform a work of mercy, which is due to the evil as well as to the good. Nicodemus joined him: And there came also Nicodemus, which at the first came to Jesus by night, and brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight.
AUGUSTINE. (Tr. cxx) We must not read the words, at the first, first bringing a mixture of myrrh, but attach the first to the former clause. For Nicodemus at the first came to Jesus by night, as John relates in the former part of the Gospel. From these words then we are to infer that that was not the only time that Nicodemus went to our Lord, but simply the first time; and that he came afterwards and heard Christ’s discourses, and became a disciple.
CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. lxxxv) They bring the spices most efficacious for preserving the body from corruption, treating Him as a mere man. Yet this shews great love.
BEDE. We must observe however that it was simple ointment; for they were not allowed to mix many ingredients together. Then took they the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury. (Exod. 30:34, 38)
AUGUSTINE. (Tr. cxx) Wherein the Evangelist intimates, that in paying the last offices of the dead, the custom of the nation is to be followed. It was the custom of the Jewish nation to embalm their dead bodies, in order that they might keep the longer.
AUGUSTINE. (de Con. Evang. iii. 23) Nor does John here contradict the other Evangelists, who, though they are silent about Nicodemus, yet do not affirm that our Lord was buried by Joseph alone. Nor because they say that our Lord was wrapped in a linen cloth by Joseph, do they say that other linen cloths may not have been brought by Nicodemus in addition; so that John may be right in saying, not, in a single cloth, but, in linen cloths. Nay more, the napkin which was about His head and the bands which were tied round His body being all of linen, though there were but one linen cloth, He may yet be said to have been wrapped up in linen cloths: linen cloths being taken in a general sense, as comprehending all that was made of linen.
BEDE. Hence hath come down the custom of the Church, of consecrating the Lord’s body not on silk or gold cloth, but in a clean linen cloth.
CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. lxxxv. 4) But as they were pressed for time, for Christ died at the ninth hour, and after that they had gone to Pilate, and taken away the body, so that the evening was now near, they lay Him in the nearest tomb: Now in the place where He was crucified there was a garden; and in the garden a new sepulchre, wherein was never man yet laid. A providential design, to make it certain that it was His resurrection, and not any other person’s that lay with Him.
AUGUSTINE. (Tr. cxx) As no one before or after Him was conceived in the womb of the Virgin Mary, so in this grave was there none buried before or after Him.
THEOPHYLACT. In that it was a new sepulchre, we are given to understand, that we are all renewed by Christ’s death, and death and corruption destroyed. Mark too the exceeding poverty that He took up for our sakes. He had no house in His lifetime, and now He is laid in another’s sepulchre at His death, and His nakedness covered by Joseph. There laid they Jesus therefore because of the Jews’ preparation day; for the sepulchre was nigh at hand.
AUGUSTINE. (Tr. cxx. 5) Implying that the burial was hastened, in order to finish it before the evening, when, on account of the preparation, which the Jews with us call more commonly in the Latin, Cæna pura, it was unlawful to do any such thing.
CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. lxxxv) The sepulchre was near, that the disciples might approach it more easily, and be better witnesses of what took place there, and that even enemies might be made the witnesses of the burial, being placed there as guards, and the story of His being stolen away shewed to be false.
BEDE. Mystically, the name Joseph means, apt for the receiving of a good work; whereby we are admonished that we should make ourselves worthy of our Lord’s body, before we receive it.
THEOPHYLACT. Even now in a certain sense Christ is put to death by the avaritious, in the person of the poor man suffering famine. Be therefore a Joseph, and cover Christ’s nakedness, and, not once, but continually by contemplation, embalm Him in thy spiritual tomb, cover Him, and mix myrrh and bitter aloes; considering that bitterest sentence of all, Depart, ye cursed, into everlasting fire. (Matt. 25:41)